06:59 PM

Early Bird Consumers Lean On Software, Net To File Taxes

Taxpayers who want to do more than one thing with their refunds can divide the money and deposit it directly in up to three accounts this year.

Half of the number of consumers filing their taxes early this year is doing so online, according to the National Retail Federation.

The NRF's 2007 Tax Returns Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey indicates that nearly two-thirds of consumers polled have already filed their tax returns. One in five plan to file in March, and only one in six wait until April, according to the NRF. The survey, conducted by BIGresearch, polled more than 9,000 consumers from Feb. 1, through Feb. 8.

The survey found that nearly half of tax filers (43.1 percent) plan to use their refunds to reduce debt, while 28.6 percent plan to put the money in savings. Eleven percent said they would use it for major purchases and 13 percent planned to spend the return on vacations. For the first time, taxpayers who want to do more than one thing with their refunds can divide the money and deposit it directly in up to three accounts this year.

NRF reported that 33.9 percent of consumers said they planned to use computer software to prepare taxes. The IRS revamped its Free File Web site this year in hopes of encouraging more people to file taxes online. The Free File program provides free e-filing to people grossing $52,000 a year or less.

In the meantime, the IRS reported that 10 million early filers failed to cash in on a one-time refund for telephone taxes, while others have abused the offer and requested outrageous amounts.

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